So you didn't get that promotion. Now what?

For the majority of working Aussies, June is the month of performance reviews. Reviews can be a rewarding time for some, but they can also be a deflating experience for those whose hopes are set on a promotion. If you’ve worked your very hardest to achieve a promotion and are left in the same position you started at, we’ve got some tips to help with your next moves.

Reviews can be a rewarding time for some, but they can also be a deflating experience for those whose hopes are set on a promotion.
  1. Stay calm and be gracious. While you’ll feel disheartened at first hearing the news, don’t act hastily. It’s best to keep professional and maintain your stellar reputation at work. As much as it may hurt, do your best to extend a congratulations to colleagues that have received a promotion and assure your boss and colleagues you’re going to be the same team player you’ve always been. It may feel unnatural now, but you’ll feel better about how you conducted yourself later down the track.
  2. Get answers. Once the disappointment has settled, request a meeting with your manager so you can learn how to overcome any professional shortcomings or lack of skills that prevented you from getting that promotion. Come prepared with questions such as:

    -  “Why do you feel I am not suitable to fill the new position?”

    -  “How can I improve my performance?”

    -  "What can I do to prepare myself for the next opportunity?"

    You may also want to seek the advice of a trusted and knowledgeable colleague whose perspective you respect. With some questions answered, try to see this as a learning opportunity to help you get over the disappointment. 
  3. Weigh up your options. After a setback like this, you may want to assess your situation and ask yourself how important staying with your current organisation is. If you’ve worked at the company for some time, given it your best shot and feel there’s little room to ‘move up’, you may come to realise it’s not for you anymore. You may also potentially be the perfect fit at another organisation. Without making any irrational decisions, keep your eyes and ears open to any other opportunities going - diversifying your employment experience could be really valuable to your career, as well as your self-esteem.  
  4. Set yourself goals. If you’ve decided to stay in your current role, try to reframe the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Focus on ways you can improve your performance for a better chance next time. You may want to ask your employer to help subsidise some professional development courses, or take on additional projects to demonstrate your ability. This time you didn't get what you hoped for but you can surely find ways to increase your chances of getting a promotion next time.

The good news? Not getting a promotion is commonplace these days. Instead of moving forward with a bruised ego and tainted attitude, it’s very possible to become an even better employee because of the experience.